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Amache Archaeology Collection

Connecting the Pieces: Dialogues on the Amache Archaeology Collection Online Exhibit  

syrup tin

Metal, 6" wide. Found in Block 8F.


The barely visible writing and distinctive shape indicate this is a Log Cabin syrup tin, dating to World War II. During the war, many items, including sugar, were rationed because of shortages. Syrup was an exception and could have been a way to bend the rationing rules.

Archaeologists found this tin in the 8F block of Amache between a barrack and the road, very close to the mess hall. Did a young child have a sweet tooth and bring the tin to the barracks? Did someone repurpose it to use as a watering can in a backyard garden?

- Kelley Rankins, DU Student Curator

The February 4, 1943 edition of the camp newspaper announced that each Amache internee was now restricted to 8 ounces of sugar a week. Courtesy of History Colorado. 


Log Cabin Syrup Tin, circa 1940s.

Courtesy of Patrick Dirden.

personal reflection

This syrup tin represents an aspect of the changing diet reinforced by unknowing American purchasers of food stuffs for the camps. The common Japanese breakfast was a bowl of cooked rice with hot tea over it, much like cold cereal topped with milk. You could add pickled vegetables and, occasionally, some protein. Foods requiring sugar were not common. Mochi, a sweet treat made of pounded pulverized rice, does not require sugar in the mochi itself.


Chazuke, a traditional Japanese breakfast made from pouring hot tea over cooked rice.

Courtesy of Jaimie M Lewis. 

The sauce to dip it in is made with a sweetener (sugar or syrup possibly) and soy sauce. This tin might also reflect the Japanese propensity for keeping things for future use. My mother saved plastic containers and even washed plastic bags to reuse. The size of the tin might make it useful as a water container as metal was rationed and many plastics were not yet available.

The stopper in the metal neck had not been removed, making the opening to the tin difficult. Being found so close to the road and mess hall, along with the stopper not being removed, might indicate it was refuse that had fallen from garbage being taken out. If it had been on the road for any length of time, someone would have gathered it for reuse or a toy or just to keep the area neat and clean. A child could have wanted the tin for a toy, but with the sharp edged stopper still in place a parent might object.

How would you use this tin?

- Linda Takahashi Rodriquez, Community Curator

Left: Linda Takahashi Rodriguez, Community Curator. Right: Kelley Rankins, DU Student Curator.